Just over a week after retiring from basketball, former Boston Celtics point guard Keyon Dooling opened up about the reasons for his retirement, as well as his history of abuse.
In an interview with Comcast Sports Net, Dooling revealed that he had been sexually abused as a child. Dooling said he had a meltdown and had to get professional help and was hospitalized. The 32-year-old said:
“It just all came to a head. To be honest with you, I blocked a lot of things out of my life. I’m a man who’s been abused, sexually, emotionally, mentally. I’ve been abused in my life … It took literally a meltdown for everybody to see how serious I was about not playing ball anymore.”
Dooling said his abusers were strangers as well as people he knew, but he refused to harbor any ill feelings against them. He instead decided to open up about his abuse to help others in similar situations can cope. He said there were also several other NBA players who had been abused, and that he acted as their therapist.
In each team he played for, Dooling was a shoulder to lean on for his teammates. He felt his generosity had gone unnoticed, but continued to lend support to others without outside recognition.
Dooling was drafted as the 10th overall pick in 2000, and first contemplated retiring five years ago, when he was playing for the Orlando Magic. At the time, he had undergone tests that revealed a degenerative hip, but at only 27, nobody wanted him to retire. Dooling said:
“I [thought about retirement] as soon as I found out [about the hip issue]. But I played ball for everybody else, for my family, and I still loved to play. I was still willing to go through that grind.”
Now that he is retiring, Dooling said he is ready to finally be home with his wife and four children. He said he had to a better father and husband, and to be just a friend to his friends, and not a provider. Dooling said he was drained financially and emotionally.
While the emotional toll of his abuse as a child, as well as the toll of being a rock for everyone around him contributed to his retiring as a player, Keyon Dooling may not be done with the NBA for good. The Celtics have invited him to join the team on road trips, and several other teams have offered him roles in scouting, player development, or front office jobs. But his priority is in rebuilding his family life as a father and husband and, for him, that is the most important role of all.